In a shocking incident reported in a Meerut school, a school teacher allegedly thrashed and then paraded two girl students across the school over the suspicion of them being in a homosexual relationship.
Soon after the two girls, who are also cousins, reported their ordeal, the parents of both the victims reached school and demanded strict action against the teacher.
Section 377 Decriminalised: SC
It has been three years since the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. While giving the verdict in Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India, the apex court ruled that Section 377 was unconstitutional “in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex”. The verdict announced on September 6, 2018, decriminalised same-sex relations between consenting adults.
Legalised But Aloof
Things have not changed even after the decriminalisation of Section 377. Section 377 decriminalisation was a historic step but we need more concrete policies to protect the community against bullying. LGBTQ bullying stats will haunt you.
Alarming Stats: UNESCO’s 2019 Report
In 2019, UNESCO teamed up with Sahodaran, a male sexual health initiative in Chennai, to conduct a community-based study on SOGI-based bullying in Tamil Nadu. It was focused on youth and school environments. And they found that
- 43% bullied in primary school
- 60% bullied in middle/high school
- 70% of bullying victims suffered anxiety and depression
- 33% drop out of school after being bullied
- 18% reported bullying instances to school authorities
The research was conducted among 371 people in the 18-22 age group from the transgender and MSM (men having sex with men) communities.
- 73% had reduced social interactions with their peers;
- 70% suffered from anxiety and depression;
- 70% said they lost concentration in studies;
- 63% reported lower academic performance;
- 53% reported having skipped classes; and
- about a third (33.2%) said bullying played a key role in discontinuing school.
LGBTQ Bullying and Suicide
Discrimination, bullying, and prejudice contribute to the suicide risk in the LGBTQ community. Several studies have shown that gender minority youth are more than three times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual peers.
Not Just Inclusive Workplace, But We Need Inclusive School Curriculum Too
Yes, things should be improved right from the beginning, from the school level. The work we have been doing to make our workplaces more inclusive is commendable but LGBTQ students also need a safe, non-violent, and inclusive environment.
Several reports have shown that there is less awareness in educational institutions and therefore, the students are at higher risk of being bullied. The issue becomes more grave as some faculty members are also homophobic.
“A Teacher’s Guide To Gender Non-conforming Students”
India’s renowned transgender activist Kalki Subramaniam brought a manual “A Teacher’s Guide To Gender Non-conforming Students” which describes what is sexual orientation, gender identity, why some children are different from others, how to identify a gender non-conforming child and how to support and protect them from being bullied at school.
“I faced it from students as well as teachers. In my college hostel in Coimbatore, I was ragged for three months, made to strip, dance to item numbers every day, and molested,” says Subramaniam.
Organisations Helping India’s Queer Community
- The Bi-Collective
- Naz Foundation
- The Humsafar Trust
- Sappho for Equality
- Udaan Trust
- Maan Foundation
- Fifty Shades of Gay
- PLUS Kolkata
- Sambhavana Society
- Sahodari Foundation